Have you already found yourself drinking from a fire hydrant, as you’ve started your online business? There are SO many resources out there – courses, coaching programs, free content and masterminds, to name a few. You probably follow several online influencers who offer them. How do you know which ones to choose?
Entrepreneurs often “misread” this problem. They think it’s a contest to see who has built the better mousetrap. That’s what makes it so difficult to judge. But what’s really happening here … has much more to do with focus.
The phenomenon new online entrepreneurs encounter is usually referred to as “the idea fairy” or “shiny object syndrome.” While that’s a cute way to describe our eight-second attention span, I’ve seen this happen to enough people (i.e. “all of them”) that I refuse to believe it’s mere distraction. People genuinely don’t understand what an hour of their time is worth.
Even if they can put a “price” on their time, most entrepreneurs don’t know how to manage it correctly. If you consider these two realities, you’ll understand why it’s easy for us to get sidetracked by things that are irrelevant, unimportant or “too much all at once” to execute the strategy.
I love entertaining people with magic tricks. I was a magician for many years, and if there’s one thing I remember about magicians, it’s that they were always after “the next big trick.” Whatever tricks you learned last week, last month or last year … it didn’t matter! On to the next big thing! Magicians master the art of illusions, and illusions create false appearances. Their appeal to us is based in novelty, because we can’t explain how they do what they do. But that doesn’t make it real; only new.
The same is true for new online entrepreneurs. They go into business with preconceived notions: “Simply build a funnel and you’ll become a millionaire.” Soon, however, it becomes apparent there are a million ways to do it. And ALL of them promise some degree of “magic” – usually, the amount of time they’ll save you to become rich. Why wait ten years for what you can get in 90 days?
To add to the confusion, most gurus and experts offer some degree of inspiration and persuasive marketing with their material. If you’re in early startup or growth mode, you might feel “obliged” to listen to them. There’s the whole mantra, “Find out what successful people do and imitate it.” That sounds reasonable … after all, they’re successful, aren’t they? They must be doing something right!
The Magnifying Glass
I came across an interesting metaphor to describe this in a blog from Daniel Jacobs, CEO of Avanoo:
If you hold a magnifying glass over a pile of dry leaves on the hottest day of the year with the sun shining overhead, nothing will happen…
…. as long as you keep moving the magnifying glass.
But as soon as you hold the magnifying glass still and focus the rays of the sun on just one leaf, the whole pile will erupt into flames.
This is the beauty of focus.
Mr. Jacobs’ quote illustrates a critical business principle: “clarity of purpose” or “singularity of focus.” The problem for you is, you face a daily barrage of talking heads on the internet, all telling you their version of the same thing. The truth is, they’re simply people building businesses online. They have to market around the clock like anyone else; they’re not personally bombarding you until you hand over your money.
At Offline Sharks, our company promotes a new course or offering nearly every day to our community. We’d love to start a week by meeting our sales goals within three hours, and then switch our funnel off … but, it doesn’t work that way. We have to repeat the offer several times a week, until enough people hear the message enough times that they pull out their wallets.
So, much of what you encounter on social media or in your inbox might be quality content. Wise advice. Penetrating marketing savvy. But is it right for you, in this moment?
You Must Learn to Focus
If you’re in business, prepare for a paradigm shift in how you manage time. Unlike money, which can be “earned back” if you lose it, time is a non-redeemable resource. Once this moment is gone, it’s gone. You can’t get it back.
Your personal and professional development are important, at every stage of owning and operating a business. You’ll have to evaluate opportunities of growth and education throughout your career, but you can’t put them ahead of the massive action you need to take to generate revenue.
In fact, you won’t be at this very long before you’ll need to start saying “No” to a lot of things, including most personal development courses or masterminds. It’s only then that you should ask who’s built the best mousetrap for you, because the process you’ll go through to do this needs to be rooted in your highest priorities. The rest of the time, you should “Just say no.”
How to Choose Your Growth
It helps to remember that success never comes from the “newest flash in the pan.” When you read articles or posts online about “the hottest new technique” or “killer apps,” you need to remember – you are reading marketing messages. Of course they’re going to sell “the sizzle”! Even if they’re very good products, you aren’t missing the boat. Business is risky, but it’s not a gamble the way stocks or real estate ventures are.
The path to success can be found in a rigid commitment to doing your fundamentals every day. In a recent podcast episode, I covered the two most important things startups can do. One book I read teaches people to choose their top 2-3 priorities over a 12-week period, and then reverse-engineer them into daily tasks. It helps people achieve goals that seem “insurmountable.”
There’s nothing wrong with purchasing courses and memberships to learn, so long as the time you spend on them is defined. Either they’re one of your top 2-3 priorities … OR they’re peripheral; you get to them when you can. But anything with a price tag higher than $500 should get priority.
Most importantly, you’re not alone in going through this “reconfiguration” of your mind. As author Dan Lok likes to say, “Business is a mental sport.” You’re simply learning what to do, as well as what not to do. The people you follow online might be very inspiring … but that doesn’t mean you have to buy from them! At the end of the day, their mission will continue without you. It’s okay to unfollow or unsubscribe from their e-mail lists. It happens to them every day, and they won’t be offended if you leave.
Remember – any effort you make toward learning deprives you of time for action. If there’s one thing you must prioritize in business, it’s action. As for the other two, take a moment to listen to this podcast episode to get crystal-clear on what’s really important.